When drafting a valid will, a person is required to appoint an executor whose job it is to follow and carry out instructions of the Will after that person’s death. It’s important to choose an executor carefully, because their actions and responsibilities will directly impact your belongings and loved ones after your time of death. The duties of an executor begin with being sworn in and do not end until the entire estate is administered. The duties required of an executor between those times are listed below.
- Notify Heirs, Creditors and Government Agencies
- An executor is required to notify all heirs that are named as recipients of the decedent’s estate. They must then provide each heir with a copy of the Will.
- The executor must notify any creditors of the estate through publication, then determine outstanding debts. An estate lawyer can help to negotiate with debtors to reduce the debt balance. Records of all paid debts must be kept.
- Any government agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, should also be notified of the death.
- Take Care of Debts, Taxes and Potential Payments
- The executor should determine all bills, debts and taxes that still need to be paid
- It should also be determined whether there are any paychecks that the decedent was owed.
- The executor will need to create a bank account to handle all of the mentioned payments that still need to be made.
- The money will come from the estate
- Complete an Inventory
- An executor is responsible for locating all assets and items of a person’s estate including personal items and property.
- All items in the estate should be appraised to determine the value of the estate in its entirety.
- All bills owed by the estate should be included in the list.
- The complete inventory should be submitted to the judge for approval.
- Distribute the Estate
- Once the inventory is approved, the executor can begin distributing the remainder of the estate after taxes and debts have been paid.
- Each beneficiary should be provided a copy of the Inventory.
- The proper assets, items or property should be disbursed to the beneficiaries as instructed in the Will.
- The estate planning attorney must draft receipts for the division of the estate.
- Beneficiaries are required to sign for the acceptance of their portion of the estate.
- Once the entire estate has been distributed and all receipts are filed, the Executor can file to close the estate. The estate will officially close 30 days following the file submission.
Completing the Duties
Serious duties and responsibilities come with being an executor. If the Executor does not complete the necessary requirements in a proper manner, then they may be removed from their duties, or penalized with a lawsuit of fraud or misconduct. Because of the complexities that accompany the job of an executor, some problems can happen unintentionally. To avoid such problems, you should work with an experienced estate planning attorney who can ensure everything is completed properly.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys for their insight into Wills and executors.